Thursday, February 24, 2011

Help Teens Set Good Internet Boundaries

This week I attended a training on teens and cyberstalkers, online bullying and other internet safety issues. I was struck by the fact that we do a lot to warn teens to watch out, but most feel they can deal with whatever comes their way online and are likely to disregard words of caution. Personally I feel that we should not just tell them to watch out, but empower them by educating them to know their options if they are approached or harassed online.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children along with the US Department of Justice have created a solid info site for teens called Don't Believe the Type to help teens make wise decisions online. These pages are an excellent resource for parents and youth services professionals for starting conversations with teens, and helping them keep others safe too. The website gives great sets of guidelines for what to watch out for in different online situations, and when to report dubious behavior to the Cyber Tip Line. The tip line is connected to a national database that tracks bad behavior to stop creeps from hurting kids. By reporting creeps teens are practicing setting good boundaries (important for their emotional development), and help prevent creeps from victimizing less savvy youth.

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